What is CycleTracks™?
The CycleTracks™ is a free smartphone application which is developed by San Francisco Country Transportation Authority (SFCTA) to collect GPS and research-related data. Using the GPS function, the app collects data on bicycle trips (origins, destinations, and routes) for several trip purposes.
You as a participant could click ‘Start’ when you start bicycling and tap ‘Save’ after end of trip. After this, you can select travel purpose (e.g. commuting, shopping, leisure, exercise, etc.) and then tap ‘save’ button. As a final step, the data will be automatically sent to the central servers of SFCTA to be used only for research purposes. We will obtain your data via this SFCTA server.
How to use CycleTracks™?
Let’s take a look at the CycleTracks screens:
First, make sure that your phone GPS catches your location correctly (see the first picture). The shiny blue point in the first picture indicates where you are, and will follow your route smoothly as you switch your location. Only when the app is able to capture a GPS fix, it will start recording the trip information. Whenever you like to start a new trip, click ‘start’ to begin recording your trip.
Instructions page contains detailed guides, which will help you understand the CycleTracks™ more easily.
If you tap ‘Settings’ at the bottom, you can enter your basic personal information. Your information is highly valued for our study, but this is optional and you can enter some info selectively. Don’t forget to tap ‘Save’ button after you finish.
Now, the CycleTracks™ is recording your trip with the blue point following your route, while time, speed, and distance are measured accordingly.
You can background the application by pushing the home button, so you can use this app very conveniently while riding a bike or using other applications simultaneously. Unless you cancel the recording or blow out completely, the app will keep running. If you have the app as background mode, it will sometimes vibrate or signal a message to remind you that it is still running (see the second and third picture).
Please note that if your battery goes below a 20% charge while recording, the app will automatically stop recording and shut down. But that’s fine, because when you reopen the app after charging, you will be notified that the recording was interrupted and the app will give you the option to ‘Continue’ or ‘Cancel’ recording.
After finishing a ride
Upon reaching your destination, just tap ‘Save’ button, then you will be required to select the purpose of you trip that you have just finished (see the first picture). We are quite interested in your main purpose for each trip, since we believe that different trip purposes lead to different route choice and behavior. This is very valuable information for us. Note that if you tap ‘Cancel’ button on the top of the screen, no information about your trip is generated nor transmitted to the main server.
After choosing the trip purpose, tap ‘Save’ button, and if you want to comment something, enter some texts, or just tap ‘Skip’ if you do not have any comment (see the second picture). Now the pop-up says ‘Transfer Complete’ to let you know your trip has been uploaded to the main server successfully.
Reviewing your biking
After your trip data is uploaded, CycleTracks™ displays your trip on the map, showing the origin, destination, routes, distance, and average speed. You can zoom in and out, checking your riding route. If you tap ‘My Trips’ in the tab-bar at the bottom of the screen, you can see a list of all your rides and review your trip history. Tapping on each trip leads you to the map that displays the trip route. You can always delete an incomplete trip by tapping ‘Edit’ button and then ‘Delete’ button.
Sometimes in urban canyons, GPS data may not reflect the exact routes, but you don’t have to delete them. We can fix them afterwards.
You can visit the website for CycleTracks™ for more information http://www.sfcta.org/modeling-and-travel-forecasting/cycletracks-iphone-and-android, the official website of San Francisco County Transportation Authority, or http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/library/details.cfm?id=4727.